Instagram Introduces Paid Subscriptions

Instagram recently introduced a subscription service to help creators build a sustainable business on the social media platform. Since becoming Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook that owns Instagram has made a significant push including billion-dollar investments toward supporting their creator networks. In 2020, Facebook launched Subscriptions, which has helped creators build sustainable businesses powered by the support of their communities. They’re ready to bring this business model to creators on Instagram based on solid creator feedback.

“Creators inspire people around the world with their talents and push culture forward every day. At Meta, we strongly believe in enabling creators to make a living through our platforms and have built a suite of tools to allow them to do that—helping them get support from their audience, partner with brands, and earn money from advertising or bonuses directly from Instagram and Facebook.”

Though they have not fully launched the subscription service, they are testing it on a small group of U.S. creators. Only ten total creators have gained access to the new feature, as Instagram considers this an “alpha” test meant to allow for feedback from fans and creators alike. They also mentioned that they would not take any fees from creators using these business tools until 2023.

Once subscribed, users will be able to access prior subscriber-only content. They’ll be alerted to exclusive broadcasts, where they’ll be able to engage more deeply with the creators as the viewing audience will be smaller. In subscriber-only Stories, indicated with a purple ring, creators may share things like behind-the-scenes content, special polls, and more. Subscriber badges, also purple, will help fans stand out in the comments of public content and will allow them to be identified in creators’ message request folders in the inbox.

Through the Subscriptions product, creators can choose their price point for access to their exclusive content. There are eight price points to choose from, starting at $0.99 per month to as much as $99.99 per month. Fans will pay a monthly fee to access subscriber-only content from creators they follow, like exclusive Lives and Stories. 

Currently, the list of alpha creators includes:

  • actor and influencer @alanchikinchow
  • basketball player @sedona._
  • astrologer @alizakelly
  • dancer/actress/model @kelseylynncook
  • digital creator @elliottnorris
  • Olympic silver medalist @jordanchiles
  • gymnast and creator @jackjerry
  • spiritual coach and artist @bunnymichael
  • X.R. creator @donalleniii
  • digital creator @lonnieiiv.

Numerous startups are working on services that allow creators to consolidate, track and monetize their following in new ways. Instagram isn’t just trying to help creators make a living. It’s also trying to get ahead of the competition, namely from TikTok, which has attracted a growing number of creators looking to reach a younger, Gen Z following. It’s also seen other large tech rivals, like YouTube and Snapchat, try to appeal to TikTok users with similar short-form video products, like Instagram’s TikTok clone called Reels. Meanwhile, even Twitter has launched its creator initiative with its Super Follow platform.

The activity in this space reflects the size of the market. The creator economy is estimated to be a little over $100 billion and growing. Even if Instagram (and Facebook) defer collecting their cut of creator transactions for a year, Meta sees it as a small investment in ensuring a larger piece of that pie in the future. Rolling this subscription service with the many things Meta is planning for years to come, it is safe to say it’s an excellent time to be a creator.

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